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Construction Projects and Compliance with New Stormwater Rules



March 9, 2010

On February 1, 2010 all construction projects that are over one acre in size must comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency rules that were published on December 1, 2009. Essentially, the new rules are deigned to control discharges from the construction site such as sediment, turbidity, nutrients and metals. See Final Rule at 74 Fed. Reg. 62,996, 63,0003-04, 63,032 (December 1, 2009). The rule is national in scope and to the extent a state’s regulations are not as demanding the federal standard must be met. Any new construction permits after February 1, 2010 to which the act applies musts comply with the federal standard.

In general, the rules are all non-numeric. The construction permit will require extra management of the clearing, excavating and grading of the construction Site. It is estimated that the increased costs of complying for 2010 is 8 million dollars. Construction contractors must employ “best management practices” so that any soil disturbance does not pollute nearby water bodies. The contractor must obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (“NPDES Permit”) for sites of one acre or more. The NPDES Permit requires a range of erosion and sediment controls which must follow best management practices. Thus, dewatering, wastewater washouts, oils and solvents used to wash off or out equipment must follow the best management practices set forth in the NJDEP permit.

While the standards are non-numeric, there will be a numeric standard for turbidity. This standard will be implemented in two phases. The first phases is to govern construction sites of 20 or more acres and goes into effect on August 1, 2011 and the second for construction sites of 10 or more acres goes into effect on February 2, 2014. The turbidity numeric limit is 280 nephelometric turbidity units which for projects that require it must be monitored. If violated there will be fines and the monitoring will be self reporting.